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Sheriff critical of man's release
Suspect free after violent encounter


A man accused of attempting to shoot a deputy with a stolen gun last fall has been released from jail, much to the dismay of Forsyth County's sheriff.

A spokeswoman for the Forsyth County Detention Center confirmed that Hollis Dean Garmon, 38, of Burma Road, was released Tuesday night on $80,300 bond.

Garmon has been charged by the sheriff's office with several offenses, including burglary, aggravated assault on a police officer, and possession of a firearm during a felony and by a convicted felon.

Citing Garmon's extensive criminal history, Sheriff Ted Paxton said he is concerned the suspect was allowed to make bond.

"Mr. Garmon's criminal activity escalated to the point to where he attempted to shoot, injure and possibly kill a law enforcement officer in October," Paxton said. "And it's only by the grace of God that the deputy was able to draw his weapon to defend himself.

"I do not know what else Mr. Garmon has to do to prove how much of a threat to the community he is."

Attempts to reach Garmon's attorney were not successful.

According to his bond order, signed by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley, Garmon must report to pre-trial services as directed and submit to random drug and alcohol tests.

However, the order does not put Garmon under house arrest, nor does it require him to wear an ankle monitor.

Garmon had been in custody since Nov. 1, when he was released from the hospital after undergoing surgery for gunshot wounds from the Oct. 21 altercation in north Forsyth.

Paxton said even if Garmon had been required to wear an ankle monitor, it wouldn't restrict or prevent his movements.

"We have seen in the past here in Forsyth County where people have removed their ankle monitors and absconded," Paxton said. "I'm not convinced that's a great enough safety valve."

At least twice since February 2009, two suspects facing sex abuse charges in Forsyth County have disappeared after ditching ankle monitors.

While Garmon may have some medical conditions as a result of his injuries that limit his mobility, Paxton said the suspect's health continues to improve. With that, so does his ability to flee.

Paxton said he has expressed his concerns to the Forsyth County District Attorney's office.

After their encounter with Garmon, Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Wilson and Investigator Tom McCullagh were placed on paid administrative leave pending a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe. They returned to work in November.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said Thursday that the investigative file has been turned over to District Attorney Penny Penn.

Penn said Wednesday she had not yet received it.

"It often does take (the GBI) what seems like an extended period of time, they just do such an excellent job," Penn said. "It's always so thorough."

Penn said the state agreed to the amount of Garmon's bond, in part because of his medical condition.

"Certainly, if we thought that a higher bond were necessary, we would have required it," said Penn, adding that she trusts the judgment of James Dunn, the prosecutor handling the case.

Penn said she understands the concerns about Garmon's release, but all cases must be looked at individually.

Authorities have said Wilson and McCullagh encountered Garmon on Oct. 21, when they arrived at a residence off Keith Bridge Road.

They had arranged to meet that morning with the homeowner, an acquaintance of Garmon's, to discuss the suspect's whereabouts.

As Wilson walked to the back of the home, Garmon ran out and over to a pickup, where he reportedly grabbed a shotgun.

Paxton has said Wilson yelled for Garmon to drop the firearm and then drew his weapon.

Garmon refused and pointed the shotgun at Wilson, who fired.

Paxton said the gun Garmon used had been stolen in a burglary in Cherokee County.

McCullagh heard the confrontation, which had ended by the time he came around for the other side of the home, the sheriff said.

Garmon's criminal history dates back nearly 20 years.

According to Georgia Department of Corrections records, he was released from prison in October 2009 after serving about four months on theft and drug charges.

He was first arrested by the sheriff's office in 1992. According to jail records, he has been charged with a litany of offenses over the years, including theft, embezzlement, possession of methamphetamine and cruelty to children.

McCullagh has been with the sheriff's office since Dec. 30, 2003, and Wilson has worked for the agency since Jan. 8, 1996, employment records show.